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1990.02.DD - RIP Magazine - Slash: Under The Black Hat

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1990.02.DD - RIP Magazine - Slash: Under The Black Hat Empty 1990.02.DD - RIP Magazine - Slash: Under The Black Hat

Post by Blackstar on Thu Aug 29, 2019 1:30 pm

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Transcript:
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SLASH: UNDER THE BLACK HAT

by Lonn M. Friend

I'm gonna be really, really honest with you for a moment. From the perspective of a magazine editor, one who observes the world of rock 'n' roll rather than actually participates in it, success is manifested in many ways, not all of them positive. Money cars, clothes, fast women, MTV, substance abuse, star attitude, bodyguards, portable phones, big houses, awards, magazine cover stories, controversy, scandal, respect—you get the point. The five members of Guns N' Roses—Axl Rose, Slash, Izzy Stradlin, Duff McKagan and Steven Adler—have had it all in one form or another. They are the rags to super-rich story of the '80s. And from your point of view, they must seem, at times, bigger than life. Success will do that. Rut the true fact of the matter is, GN’R are still just five guys playing in a rock band. Sure they've tasted the fruits of fame but, essentially, it hasn't changed them much at all as people. I know this because I knew them then ... and I know them now.

Regardless of what you may have read in the countless other music magazines over the past couple years, one member of Guns N' Roses has never been adequately or honestly portrayed, if you fall for the hype, lead guitarist Slash is nothing more than a Saturday-morning cartoon caricature of the excessive rock star hellbent on self-destruction and caring little for anyone or anything outside his small GN'R universe of peers. Let me be tne first to tell you that this simplistic characterization is deeply flawed. Underneath me knotted black shag and top hat, there is a frignteningly articulate, intelligent, sensitive and focused artist. Slash's passions are his music, family and friends. His life is his band; his band, his life.

While the media blitzed Guns N’ Roses all through 1989 with bullshit features culled from ancient interviews (many done as press for the 1987 Appetite for Destruction release), I decided to hold back. It’s not our style to fabricate phony exclusives just to keep a hot band’s name on our cover every month. We think you are smarter than that. This mag is the real thing. . .just like Guns N’ Roses. My relationship with the band is an honest and mutually respectful one. When the guys were ready to talk, they would come to RIP. And as the old adage proclaims, good things come to those who wait.

For the fans who showed a little patience, this one’s for you....


RIP: Last spring the band almost broke up. What happened?

SLASH: We went to Chicago to get a place to rehearse and record—we wanted to get away from the hassles of Los Angeles. Axl showed up in town, and nothing was really getting done. I don’t want to point my finger at Axl, because that’s not fair. I was angry with him. And I had my problems too. I was drinking too much. I drank up to a half gallon of vodka a day, easy. I got to the point where I was drinking so much, I would have the shakes so bad the next morning, I would have to drink a fairly tall, stiff vodka and cranberry just so I could drive.

RIP: This pissed Axl off?

SLASH: We were both upset. I finally just packed up my bag and left him a note saying. "It’s not happening here, and I can’t deal with it anymore.” I went back to L.A. I guess the week following that things were kind of up in the air. I didn’t call him, and he didn't call me. Finally, however, we sat down and talked about it. You see, with me and Axl, there’s nothing that can’t be resolved with a few words.

RIP: Sounds like a period of great upheaval.

SLASH: It was. When I got back from Chicago, I decided, f?!k it, I’m just gonna play certain songs or something—play them with Duff and Steven, or something. F?!k it. The three musketeers! Izzy was traveling around God knows where, and Axl was still in Chicago; so there was nothing else to do but keep jammin'. I didn’t really know what we were working toward, except that the new songs were good. If anything kept my faith in GN’R at this time, it’s the fact that Axl is the best f?!king singer around these days, and he writes great lyrics; Izzy’s a great rhythm guitar player; Duff’s a great bassist; and Stevie’s a great drummer. We had a chemistry... I was determined to get back to what we had.

RIP: Success breeds distraction, and you guys had both, huh?

SLASH: What we used to be like as a band was very detached, not really responsible for anyone but ourselves. We just toured and toured, and that was fine. We lived out of our duffel bags. But when we got off the road, and the record went through the roof, I mean, that was a major change for everybody, and everybody has their own way of dealing with it. For me, it was to fall into doing a lot of drugs and drinking and just clouding the whole thing over and jamming. I would spend all my time playing my guitar and getting stoned. For Steven, it was sort of the same, but he likes to party and hang out and have fun more than me. Iz-zy’s sort of similar to me. Axl would find these fantastical situations that only Axl could find. Only Duff’s remained rooted to a married, domestic kind of lifestyle.

RIP: Why has the period of mega-success been so traumatic for you?

SLASH: Because I live for this band. I don’t have anything else. I’m very single-minded. When I do something, it’s the only thing I do. So during this period, when the band wasn’t a solid entity, the fiber that held us together got thin, and the strands of our relationships began to fall apart. Once that began to happen, I started to feel like I couldn’t do anything to put it back together again. I lost interest in life, period.

RIP: But what about the material things—the “good life”?

SLASH: Nothing in what I got out of Guns N’ Roses monetarily or fame-wise, I could really give a shit about. It was, and is always, the band. If my ability to play guitar suddenly left me, or if something happened to Axl, Duff, Izzy or Steve, and GN’R suddenly ended, I’d be in serious f?!king trouble, because I depend on them. I depend on them to be part of the group that makes us special... that keeps my life going.

RIP: Alright, enough dark retrospect. Let's talk about what’s happening now. You are back in the studio. right?

SLASH: Me and Axi are on a roll right now. Last night we were listening to one of the new songs, trying to put lyrics to it. I went upstairs to get my hat, and he was singing. I got chills, thinking, F?!k, man, this album is gonna be a killer. I'm really excited about it now. The distractions, the problems, the bullshit are truly behind us now.

RIP: What are the songs on the new LP gonna be like?

SLASH: Well, first off, it's gonna be a double album, because we've got too many songs, and we wanna do the best album we possibly can. Our attitude is not like, "Save it for the next record.” Hell, there might not be a next record. Right now all that lies in the future for Guns N’ Roses is the next LP.

RIP: How about the songs? Any specifics?

SLASH: Let's see, there’s "Ain’t Goin’ Down," "Don't Cry,” “You Could Be Mine,” "Perfect Crime,” another one called “Night Crawler" and one called “Back Off Bitch.” I have a song, too, that I wrote. It’s really personal, about how estranged I felt from everybody else in the band—and from society, friends and stuff—during the bad period. It’s about how cold and materialistic people really are. It was just one of those sitting on the edge of the bed, being a little depressed and playing a slow song things. Most of the lyrics will be written by Axl, but they’ll reflect the thoughts, pain and feelings of the individuals in the band, 'cause we all go through it together.

RIP: Will GN’R fans like the record?

SLASH:  I think the people who are going to dislike the record the most will be the people who stuck us in a category of brash, loud, fast, attitude rock—you know, the ones who think that Guns N’ Roses is this whiskey drinking, drug-taking bunch of f?!king post-adolescent f?!k-ups that somehow managed to squeeze through the system, get a record out and get away with it. I was talking to Duff’s nephew or something, and this kid was telling me how disappointed he was in Metallica’s . . .And Justice for All. And I was like, Why? He says they’ve softened up. I said, “No, they’ve grown.” You can’t play one thing all your life. Once you’ve done that, move on to the next natural progression of your art. Unfortunately, a lot of the fans aren’t prepared sometimes to go along with you. It’s natural for every creative human being to grow, mentally and artistically.

RIP: Do you think that kids look up to Guns N’ Roses as drunken idols?

SLASH: They look up to the image of abandon that goes with a band like us. But f?!k, you wanna talk about abandon, look at Aerosmith in 78. You know what I mean? Hey, there will be kids out there who are disappointed because I’m really not this f?!king perpetual, indestructible, alcohol-consuming animal that I’ve been portrayed to be. I had my bad times. I’m cleaner and healthier now. It’s just like, I’m sick of fulfilling some decadent fantasy for teenage kids. There’s more to all this than that. A lot more.

RIP: The size of the GN’R “thing” has spawned a lot of copycat bands. How do you feel about the obvious Guns ripoffs?

SLASH: I resent the guys that are f?!king blatantly ripping us off. . .ripping Axl off, yeah. I’d love to lay my knuckles all over them. It’s just tasteless. It’s a pussy way to go about things. I try to overlook it, but I know Axl; I've known him a long time. I know how he moves. It’s no f?!king coincidence that 14 other guys have the same moves. MTV has become, like, Axl-aerobics. Everybody get up and snake-walk... one... two... three [Slash rises and dances in mock step]. And with me, it’s like, walking down the street in New York City and seeing people doing me in the top hat, like Halloween or something. But that’s okay. It’s fun, no big deal.

RIP: Who’s responsible for the cloning of the GN’R image. The record companies?

SLASH: The record companies are not promoting Guns N’ Roses-style images. It's the bands that wanna do that. The bands think it’s sorta cool. F?!k, it’s sure a lot easier than having to get all dressed up and put on makeup [laughs].

RIP: But are the record labels really taking chances with new bands?

SLASH: Let me tell you something: the record business sucks. The record business has turned music into a very uncreative, insensitive, unmusical industry. There’s hardly any chances being taken anymore. We were a big chance when we happened. Thank God there were enough people who had faith in us to let us go. It’s like with the labels, they say, “There’s a formula. We’ve seen it work before,’’ and they keep rehashing the same old shit. Except for stuff like Faith No More’s new album and Metallica —they were real kick-in-the-ass records— it’s been the same shit from the late ’70s to the late ’80s.

RIP: Alright, enough industry banter. What about the infatuation with snakes?

SLASH: When I was a kid, my mom took me to San Francisco to stay with some friends. It was in the country outside of town. I caught a garter snake in the front yard, and by the time we left, I caught about 300 more. I kept them all in this big tank.

RIP: And now how many snakes do you have?

SLASH: Fifteen. They’re all long and range over several different types. Chicken snakes, pythons, rattlesnakes, boas... I have a mangrove too. It’s deadly. It’s a “rear-fanged” species; so in order for it to deliver a poisonous bite, it would have to work itself around so the rear fangs would have contact with your skin. I’m thinking of getting a cobra.

RIP: Most people are repulsed by these slimy reptiles.

SLASH: I just think they’re gorgeous. And I don’t hold them that much or keep them around for companionship. God knows snakes aren't for that. I keep them around because I like them. I'm one of those people who can get into their personalities.

RIP: What kind of snake was that with you in the "Patience" video?

SLASH: That's Pandora, my boa constrictor. She's one of my favorites. I also love my two great anacondas. I also have a genuine Indian python - the real thing. It's almost extinct. I also have a Burmese python. That's the one I'm using for the cover shot.

RIP: Things okay with your mom and dad these days?

SLASH: My mom’s way cool; my dad’s way cool. I never give them any credit. I said something in the Rolling Stone article about being out on the street, and my mom took it personally. She thought i meant that she had kicked me out of the house when I was a little kid. I was talking about when I’d left home, and the band and everything. I was just scumming it, you know what I mean. But they were always f?!king cool parents. I respect them as friends, not as parents.

RIP: Last question. Has the “One in a Million” controversy ever been properly put into perspective?

SLASH: When Axl first addressed the critics, his foremost priority was for him to say what he wanted to say and let the consequences fall by the wayside. That’s art. Sometimes you have to stand up for what you believe in. With “One...,” three quarters of the people who bitched misinterpreted what we were saying. I saw it coming.

RIP: You explained the song right here in RIP several months ago, yet the furor sustained.

SLASH: No one is ever going to be satisfied! And you know, it’s amazing how people let other people run their lives. It's almost like there’s a robot or computer, and it’s setting you up to live the perfect, proper life. It’s just not right. Everybody's human, and no matter how morally correct you are as a human being, you're still going to make mistakes, because you're en-titled to your opinion. Opinions are personal. That’s why I hate critics. It's like, “We’re going to take this away from you, and we’re gonna ban this." Oh, yeah? Who says? Everybody’s complaining. Everybody’s writing letters. It's just one big, confused mess. But we somehow rise above, right?


Last edited by Blackstar on Fri Aug 30, 2019 12:32 pm; edited 1 time in total
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1990.02.DD - RIP Magazine - Slash: Under The Black Hat Empty Re: 1990.02.DD - RIP Magazine - Slash: Under The Black Hat

Post by Soulmonster on Fri Aug 30, 2019 9:05 am

Let's see, there’s "Ain’t Goin’ Down," "Don't Cry,” “You Could Be Mine,” "Perfect Crime,” another one called “Night Crawler" and one called “Back Off Bitch.” I have a song, too, that I wrote. It’s really personal, about how estranged I felt from everybody else in the band—and from society, friends and stuff—during the bad period. It’s about how cold and materialistic people really are. It was just one of those sitting on the edge of the bed, being a little depressed and playing a slow song things. Most of the lyrics will be written by Axl, but they’ll reflect the thoughts, pain and feelings of the individuals in the band, 'cause we all go through it together [RIP, February 1990].[/i]

Interesting quote. I assume the song he talks about at the end is Coma.

But Night Crawler? Isn't that an old Rapidfire song?
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1990.02.DD - RIP Magazine - Slash: Under The Black Hat Empty Re: 1990.02.DD - RIP Magazine - Slash: Under The Black Hat

Post by Blackstar on Fri Aug 30, 2019 12:30 pm

@Soulmonster wrote:
Let's see, there’s "Ain’t Goin’ Down," "Don't Cry,” “You Could Be Mine,” "Perfect Crime,” another one called “Night Crawler" and one called “Back Off Bitch.” I have a song, too, that I wrote. It’s really personal, about how estranged I felt from everybody else in the band—and from society, friends and stuff—during the bad period. It’s about how cold and materialistic people really are. It was just one of those sitting on the edge of the bed, being a little depressed and playing a slow song things. Most of the lyrics will be written by Axl, but they’ll reflect the thoughts, pain and feelings of the individuals in the band, 'cause we all go through it together [RIP, February 1990].[/i]
Interesting quote. I assume the song he talks about at the end is Coma.

But Night Crawler? Isn't that an old Rapidfire song?
No, it's not Rapidfire (Rapidfire had a song "Prowler")

It was one of the songs Slash had that weren't used in the Illusions. According to Marc Canter, Slash used it on the second Snakepit record under the name Spade Parade:

https://tinyurl.com/y35zswzt
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Post by Soulmonster on Fri Aug 30, 2019 12:34 pm

@Blackstar wrote:
@Soulmonster wrote:
Let's see, there’s "Ain’t Goin’ Down," "Don't Cry,” “You Could Be Mine,” "Perfect Crime,” another one called “Night Crawler" and one called “Back Off Bitch.” I have a song, too, that I wrote. It’s really personal, about how estranged I felt from everybody else in the band—and from society, friends and stuff—during the bad period. It’s about how cold and materialistic people really are. It was just one of those sitting on the edge of the bed, being a little depressed and playing a slow song things. Most of the lyrics will be written by Axl, but they’ll reflect the thoughts, pain and feelings of the individuals in the band, 'cause we all go through it together [RIP, February 1990].[/i]
Interesting quote. I assume the song he talks about at the end is Coma.

But Night Crawler? Isn't that an old Rapidfire song?

No, it's not Rapidfire (Rapidfire had a song "Prowler")

It was one of the songs Slash had that weren't used in the Illusions. According to Marc Canter, Slash used it on the second Snakepit record under the name Spade Parade:

https://tinyurl.com/y35zswzt

Ah, thanks!
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Post by Blackstar on Fri Aug 30, 2019 12:41 pm

It's strange that the "Dancing with Mr. Brownstone" incident at the Rolling Stones shows is not discussed in this interview.
I guess either the interview was conducted before that (although published in February 1990) or Slash didn't want to bring it up.
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